Ghosts By Henrik Ibsen Act III

ACT THIRD.

[The room as before. All the doors stand open. The lamp is still burning on the table. It is dark out of doors; there is only a faint glow from the conflagration in the background to the left.]

[MRS. ALVING, with a shawl over her head, stands in the conservatory, looking out. REGINA, also with a shawl on, stands a little behind her.]

MRS. ALVING. The whole thing burnt! — burnt to the ground!

REGINA. The basement is still burning.

MRS. ALVING. How is it Oswald doesn't come home? There's nothing to be saved.

REGINA. Should you like me to take down his hat to him?

MRS. ALVING. Has he not even got his hat on?

REGINA. [Pointing to the hall.] No; there it hangs.

MRS. ALVING. Let it be. He must come up now. I shall go and look for him myself. [She goes out through the garden door.]

MANDERS. [Comes in from the hall.] Is not Mrs. Alving here?

REGINA. She has just gone down the garden.

MANDERS. This is the most terrible night I ever went through.

REGINA. Yes; isn't it a dreadful misfortune, sir?

MANDERS. Oh, don't talk about it! I can hardly bear to think of it.

REGINA. How can it have happened — ?

MANDERS. Don't ask me, Miss Engstrand! How should I know? Do you, too — ? Is it not enough that your father — ?

REGINA. What about him?

MANDERS. Oh, he has driven me distracted —

ENGSTRAND. [Enters through the hall.] Your Reverence —

MANDERS. [Turns round in terror.] Are you after me here, too?

ENGSTRAND. Yes, strike me dead, but I must — ! Oh, Lord! what am I saying? But this is a terrible ugly business, your Reverence.

MANDERS. [Walks to and fro.] Alas! alas!

REGINA. What's the matter?

ENGSTRAND. Why, it all came of this here prayer-meeting, you see. [Softly.] The bird's limed, my girl. [Aloud.] And to think it should be my doing that such a thing should be his Reverence's doing!

MANDERS. But I assure you, Engstrand —

ENGSTRAND. There wasn't another soul except your Reverence as ever laid a finger on the candles down there.

MANDERS. [Stops.] So you declare. But I certainly cannot recollect that I ever had a candle in my hand.

ENGSTRAND. And I saw as clear as daylight how your Reverence took the candle and snuffed it with your fingers, and threw away the snuff among the shavings.

MANDERS. And you stood and looked on?

ENGSTRAND. Yes; I saw it as plain as a pike-staff, I did.

MANDERS. It's quite beyond my comprehension. Besides, it has never been my habit to snuff candles with my fingers.

ENGSTRAND. And terrible risky it looked, too, that it did! But is there such a deal of harm done after all, your Reverence?

MANDERS. [Walks restlessly to and fro.] Oh, don't ask me!

ENGSTRAND. [Walks with him.] And your Reverence hadn't insured it, neither?

MANDERS. [Continuing to walk up and down.] No, no, no; I have told you so.

ENGSTRAND. [Following him.] Not insured! And then to go straight away down and set light to the whole thing! Lord, Lord, what a misfortune!

MANDERS. [Wipes the sweat from his forehead.] Ay, you may well say that, Engstrand.

ENGSTRAND. And to think that such a thing should happen to a benevolent Institution, that was to have been a blessing both to town and country, as the saying goes! The newspapers won't be for handling your Reverence very gently, I expect.

MANDERS. No; that is just what I am thinking of. That is almost the worst of the whole matter. All the malignant attacks and imputations — ! Oh, it makes me shudder to think of it!

MRS. ALVING. [Comes in from the garden.] He is not to be persuaded to leave the fire.

MANDERS. Ah, there you are, Mrs. Alving.

MRS. ALVING. So you have escaped your Inaugural Address, Pastor Manders.

MANDERS. Oh, I should so gladly —

MRS. ALVING. [In an undertone.] It is all for the best. That Orphanage would have done no one any good.

MANDERS. Do you think not?

MRS. ALVING. Do you think it would?

MANDERS. It is a terrible misfortune, all the same.

MRS. ALVING. Let us speak of it plainly, as a matter of business. — Are you waiting for Mr. Manders, Engstrand?

ENGSTRAND. [At the hall door.] That's just what I'm a-doing of, ma'am.

MRS. ALVING. Then sit down meanwhile.

ENGSTRAND. Thank you, ma'am; I'd as soon stand.

MRS. ALVING. [To MANDERS.] I suppose you are going by the steamer?

MANDERS. Yes; it starts in an hour.

MRS. ALVING. Then be so good as to take all the papers with you. I won't hear another word about this affair. I have other things to think of —

MANDERS. Mrs. Alving —

MRS. ALVING. Later on I shall send you a Power of Attorney to settle everything as you please.

MANDERS. That I will very readily undertake. The original destination of the endowment must now be completely changed, alas!

MRS. ALVING. Of course it must.

MANDERS. I think, first of all, I shall arrange that the Solvik property shall pass to the parish. The land is by no means without value. It can always be turned to account for some purpose or other. And the interest of the money in the Bank I could, perhaps, best apply for the benefit of some undertaking of acknowledged value to the town.

MRS. ALVING. Do just as you please. The whole matter is now completely indifferent to me.

ENGSTRAND. Give a thought to my Sailors' Home, your Reverence.

MANDERS. Upon my word, that is not a bad suggestion. That must be considered.

ENGSTRAND. Oh, devil take considering — Lord forgive me!

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